Sunday, 21 December 2008

Some girls never get what they wanna, wanna

Grand final: 20th December 2008

Okay, here we go! We kick off with the obligatory hyperbolic VT, where Tess makes such obviously fallacious statements as this being the most closely-fought Strictly yet. Only three couples remain, and we're reminded of the hideous overmarking that's taken place this series by accompanying each contestant with a shot of the gazillion tens they've been awarded. Then we see Tom and Camilla dancing into the wall (I'll never tire of that one), Rachel going "ooh, me back", and Tom saying that if he gets to lift that trophy, it'll be the greatest day of their lives. Even greater than the day he GOT MARRIED? Oh, and Lisa makes some comment about her journey, but let's not pretend that Lisa has anything like enough public support to win this thing. This is the grand final - live!

There are credits, then there is Bruce and Tess. Tess Daly's dresswatch: it appears to have been melted down from a golden glitterball and reshaped to fit a woman. Imagine if Tom's samba shirt were a dress, and you have some idea of the horror. Claudia is in the audience - hooray! I love Claudia. Bruce asks if we're all ready and steady, and then implores us not to go. Ba-dum-tish! He says that they've got a lot of splainin' to do, but we'll meet the couples first: Tom and Camilla, Lisa and Brendan and Rachel and Vincent. Everyone looks lovely, though I have my reservations about the giant pink flaps attached to Lisa's arms. Camilla and Tom lean over to grab hands with Rachel and Vincent, but don't appear to do the same with Lisa and Brendan. Or possibly they did, and it wasn't caught on camera - it's hard to tell. Anyway, it's a nice gesture.

So, Bruce reminds us of last week's unfortunate leaderboard fiasco wherein Tom could not have escaped the danceoff even if he got the highest public vote - which, as it turns out, he did. So much for all the Tomfen on the internet getting all butthurt about how he'd come into the final at a disadvantage because people would've have realised there was no point voting for him and wouldn't have bothered. [I am incredibly amused at how stupid people are. Nobody ever did themselves any harm by underestimating the collective intelligence of the public, did they? - Carrie] Tess apologises for the show not having realised this sooner, but says they did "the fairest thing" and put all three couples through. And yes, we could sit here all day arguing about what we would consider to be the fairest thing to have done, but let's just take that as fact and move on, shall we? There's a lot of dancing to be done. Anyway, for the first time in the show's history, we get to see the results of last week's leaderboard once the public vote had been added. The scores are Rachel 5, and Lisa and Tom with 4, meaning that Rachel got the second highest number of public votes, and Lisa got the fewest. Which pretty much robs this evening of any tension regarding who's actually going to win, but it's nice of them to be so transparent, I guess. Bruce says those points will be added to the judges' from tonight, and Tess says that after the public vote, if there is a tie at the bottom, the couple with the most viewer votes will go through. They've done the best job they can of explaining this, but I seriously had three or four people say to me "I don't understand!" over the course of the evening, so possibly it's time to give the scoring system on this show a bit of a rethink. Oh, and the couple in third place will be kicked off at the start of the results show, and then the vote counts will be reset to zero. Bruce apologises for all of this, and says that he hopes now we understand what's going to happen. And my answer is "yes, right up to who's going to win, before we've even started". Thanks, show!

Bruce says that we have three fantastic couples (again, let's not dispute this, we'll be here all day) all hoping to win. This segues into a VT full of clich├ęs and claptrap: this is the night of nights! Who dares will win! This is it! This is the big one! The competition starts now! Let battle commence! Oh, whatever. And Bruno says this is the most competitive series yet, which...maybe? I dunno. Personally I would've put last year's ahead of this year because Alesha vs Kelly vs Matt vs Gethin feels way more exciting than Austin vs Tom vs Lisa vs Rachel (and yes, I am taking my own personal sample of the best couples from each series, but if you want objectivity, I suggest you are looking in the wrong place). So much filler. Just get on with the fucking dancing, already.

Bruce is reading my mind, because he says "at last, it's time for the first couple": Rachel and Vincent. There is a weak joke about Vincent not wanting to give Rachel back, and Bruce is not doddery, doddery he is not. Jesus H Christ, there is now another VT - though I suppose this is the sort we usually get before a dance, so I can overlook it. Last week their Argentine Tango was lovely, and then Len undermarked their American Smooth because he suddenly decided he wasn't just going to hand out tens willy-nilly (a resolution which clearly isn't going to last very long). The long and short of it all is that Rachel and Vincent are very fond of each other, and Rachel wants to thank him by giving him the chance to lift the trophy together.

They are dancing our first foxtrot of the evening, to 'Close To You'. It's lovely, or at least as lovely as a foxtrot can be, given that I don't really care for it as a dance. Rachel's expression is a little glacial. Bruce tells them they've done it again, and welcomes back "our fabulous singers" and the wonderful orchestra. There's a joke about the judges being excited about tonight's show, and a punchline I'm sure they've used before about Bruno being excited to stay up late. Head Judge Len says that last week he said their American Smooth lacked foxtrot content, but not this: it was truly a joy. People are obviously already trying to vote, because a chyron comes on the screen at this point saying "lines not open yet". Bruno says that this series has included some of the best ballroom dances ever, and this foxtrot is up at the top: Rachel's technique is wonderful and she's become an artist. Craig says Rachel has been nothing less than brilliant this series, and she's the most consistent celebrity dancer they've ever had. Arlene says Rachel shimmers and shines like the diamonds on her dress, from her exquisite top line to her perfect heel turns. There's a shot of the audience, where Alesha is sandwiched in between Mark Ramprakash and Jill Halfpenny. Dream Strictly threesome, anyone?

Back in the house of Tesstosterone, ooh, look! Everybody's back! Well, almost everybody, but we'll discuss that later. Mark Foster is wearing that stupid bloody see-through mesh shirt, which really does not look good on him despite what everyone in the costume department seems to think, and Phil Daniels has grown satanic facial hair. Rachel says that Craig's comments were such a compliment, and credits it all to Vincent and his choreography. Tess says that Rachel has broken more records than anyone in Strictly history. So does that mean she holds the record for most records broken? Tess asks if Rachel would like to break another one and get 40 for both dances. Yes, Rachel would. Not a surprise, that answer, is it? Scores are in: tens all round for a total of 40, leaving Rachel halfway to achieving that dream. Tess asks if Rachel can do that well in their rumba, and Rachel looks nervous. Well, as nervous as Rachel is generally capable of looking given her general lack of emotion. Tess reminds us that Rachel and Vincent have trained harder [or at least longer - Carrie] than any other couple and gives out the voting number.

Tom and Camilla are next, including a joke about what Tom will be buying his NEW WIFE, whom he RECENTLY MARRIED, for Christmas. We see their VT, and Camilla having palpitations at the thought of going out in the semis for the third time. The news that they were all going through turned Tom into a blubbering baby, as he puts it. Tom has loved his Strictly experience, and says it feels like the last four months have only been a week long. Fuck, I'm glad it feels like that for someone. Tom says they know what they've got to do, and he wants to be the one to say to Camilla "go over there and pick up the trophy, because it's yours". And really, that is kind of sweet.

They are also doing their foxtrot, to Dolly Parton's 'Here You Come Again'. Tom's chin is sticking out way in front and Camilla's face is totally manic, so it's business as usual here. It's all going very nicely until midway through Tom trips over his own feet and kind of crashes into Camilla, which is a shame, but to his credit, he recovers quickly and well. Still, that's pretty much boned his chances of getting 40 for this one, which it actually might have merited if it hadn't been for that, because it is lovely, and better than the last time we saw it, trip notwithstanding. Tom goes to the judges and says "nobody saw that, did they?" Only around 10 million viewers, Tom, but never mind, eh? Bruno loved the Hollywood take on the dance, and reminds Tom that even the best dancers stumble every now and again - it being the final, they do have to take it into account (though I daresay Head Judge Len feels like he shouldn't have to), but it was a shame because Bruno thought it was great. Craig says there's stumbling, and there's the recovery, and he thinks Tom recovered well - he loved the routine, Tom maintained his frame throughout and was really leading it. Arlene says it's a difficult dance, and says that Tom has the ease of Fred Astaire, the rhythm of Gene Kelly, the drive of Jeremy Clarkson and the posture of Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in his swimming trunks. Yeah, because the first thing that went through everyone's mind when they watched that scene in Casino Royale was "phwoar, look at the posture on that." Len has nothing to add, other than adding that Tom's dancing has a naturalness and doesn't look contrived or forced. Except in the face. But that was me saying that bit, not Len. Len brings out the "it's harder for male celebrities because they have to lead" bollocks, and blames Des Lynam for trying to trip up Tom. Because presumably Des shares Len's love of SPORTSMEN and SPORTSMEN alone.

Backstage, Tom cringes about his mistake and Tess asks him how it feels to have learned four dances this week, like four is this unprecedentedly huge number, even though last year's finalists had to do five. Tom says really Camilla had to do all the hard work. Scores: eight from Craig (too harsh, in my opinion), nines from everyone else for a total of 35. Tom says he just wants to be able to do his showdance, and Tess says that he needs to make the final two to be able to do that, which is a total lie as we shall see later. Camilla cry-laughs that their dress rehearsal was flawless, and wishes the two situations had been reversed. Tom just laughs about the whole thing, and good for him, I reckon.

Which leaves us with Lisa and Brendan. Bruce says that Lisa's been pushing her boobs back up all series, which has reminded him of someone famous - Les Dawson, in fact. Lisa was nervous to open the semi-final, but got a 40 for her efforts. She's very excited to be in the final. Lisa says that her journey has not all been smooth sailing, it's been a real Tess. Er, "test". We see her backstage tearfully (shocker, I know) thanking Brendan for teaching her how to dance. Lisa doesn't know how she's going to fill the empty feeling she has when the show's over. Insert dirty joke here, if you like.

Oh joy, another foxtrot! It's to 'Walking My Baby Back Home', and I'm annoyed because the length of Lisa's dress makes it impossible to see her feet. It's a lovely routine, but there are moments where it looks a little bit hesitant to me. Also, I'm absolutely fucking sick of bloody foxtrots at this point. Bruce loves their walk off at the end, and he absolutely loves all the hesitations. Well, shut my mouth. Craig says this demonstrates what all the hard work adds up to, and credits Brendan for Lisa's improvement. He says it was almost perfect last time, and this time it was better. Arlene talks for about six years about a point in the first series where Brendan's hand was on Natasha's spine and it was like her breath was living and breathing through him, the result being that Brendan holds a woman like no one else can. I think we all knew that, didn't we? Len tells Brendan he's done a fantastic job with Lisa, correcting her posture and footwork - he's never seen any "girl celebrity" (fuck off, Len) improve this much. Bruno says her story is amazing because she started off gangly and geeky and is now a beautiful and glamorous creature. Bruce starts miming the push-up boobs thing again, and Lisa's all "Stop that, you! Stop that! You're naughty!" Hee.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess reminds us again that the lines are not open, because some people are stupid and already trying to vote. Lisa is excited to be in the final. Brendan says there is no feeling like this in the world. Scores are in: tens all round for a perfect score.

Bruce informs us that that was the end of the ballroom round (THANK GOD) and soon we'll be doing the Latin dancers - but first we must cast our minds back to January 1st 1986 - sorry, September 2008 - when the boys first took to the floor. More filler VT, obviously, including Austin's best first dance EVARZ, Gary getting 1 off Craig [snigger - Carrie], Heather being queen of the salsa and Gillian being rough around the edges. Oh, and Austin's guns. And Karen openly despising Gary, which is still very funny to me. My God, how long is this going to go on for? We see poor Jessie Wallace fucking up her quickstep and beating herself up about it. We see a montage of the first five eliminated couples saying how much they loved it - gosh, I wonder what could be coming next?

Oh, what a surprise! Phil, Gillian, Gary, Jessie and Don (how it saddens me that Don is in this group) return for a final medley dance. Phil makes an early bid for the Fiona Phillips Memorial Inglorious Return Award for not knowing a single one of his waltz steps. Seriously, you could park a bus between him and Flavia. Gillian apparently can't dance her foxtrot for giggling, and then Anton picks her up for a ZOMG ILLEGAL LIFT and whirls her around so much that she can barely stand when he puts her down. Gary and Karen reprise their cha cha cha, and I love how you can totally see Karen bracing herself before she throws herself backwards for Gary to catch her, like she's expecting to see out the evening in A&E. There's a bit of business where, in the bit where Karen bends over and Gary plays keyboard on her back, he suddenly goes "nah" and starts doing air guitar instead, leading to Karen standing up and doing A Face which is meant to denote confusion. I love Karen. Poor Jessie is still dressed in one of those horrendous balloon dresses they made her wear, and her quickstep seems a little better than last time, though Darren is kind of dragging her through it by the end. And then Don and Lilia, with their awesome tango. I'd forgotten about this routine, but it really was fantastic. Certainly most deserving of high marks than some of the dances that actually did score in the upper thirties.

Back to the actual business of the series: we get a history of Rachel and Vincent. Vincent refers to their first dance as being like first love. We see Rachel being criticised a lot for not being exciting, which is a bit like criticising the sky for not being green, and then Rachel's first really dazzling performance putting her in the bottom two. Bah! Then Rachel's rumba, which broke the ice. We see them getting a perfect score for their foxtrot first time round, coupled with a positively adorable shot of Vincent discussing this by putting his hands over his eyes and leaning back, only to overbalance and tip his chair backwards. Hee! Being in two danceoffs made Vincent feel like the public didn't like them. Well, not everyone can be as likeable as Tom "Smuggo" Chambers, after all. They want to win. I am shocked by this news.

They are repeating their lovely rumba, hooray! Rachel's new rumba dress is not as lovely as the first one, boo! This is the routine of the series, for me. It's just beautiful. Arlene says this is a love story set to a rumba, and it shows something she never thought she'd see in Rachel: emotion and musicality. Ooh, burn on singer Rachel Stevens! Len says that having a slow dance in your final is terrible because your nerves are jangling, but they came out and did it brilliantly. Bruno needs a shower and a stiff drink, "and then let's do it over again!" Hee. He applauds her musicality. Craig calls it "indecently delicious". He says it's toned down the indecency since last time, which Bruno attributes to the fact that she's wearing white this time. Bruce tells them they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess thinks she may have to join Bruno in that shower. May I say on behalf of the universe: DO NOT WANT. Vincent's family are here from Italy, Rachel can't wait to meet them. Vincent falls over his words, bless him, and we see Mama Simone in the audience. Scores: nine from Craig (guess you really need to be indecent to get top marks) and tens from everyone else for a total of 39. A total of 79, which they are very happy with.

Next are Camilla and The Crimson Chin (what? He's wearing red. You can't expect me not to make that joke). We see Tom's journey: his smug first cha cha cha, his American Smooth the day before his WEDDING, him crashing into the wall during quickstep rehearsals, his cruelly being denied a ten (whatever), Len saving the night during the waltz by giving him a ten. We do not see the point where Len openly admitted to having decided to completely ignore the things in the dance which would normally have prevented his being awarded a ten. Sigh. Hilarious b&w 'Nam-style flashbacks to Camilla's two previous experiences of going out in the semis, only to finally get through this time.

They're dancing their salsa, and dear God, it's about friggin' time we had a dance with a bit of life and energy to it. See what you have done to me, show? YOU HAVE MADE ME GRATEFUL THAT TOM CHAMBERS IS DANCING. That should give you some indication of how underwhelming this final has been so far. Though, in fairness, it is a very good salsa routine - full of sass and hip-shaking and some complex arm twists. Len thought it was brilliant and great and brilliant. Bruno thought it was fast and furious - he thought it could have stood to be toned down a little (pot, kettle, meet Bruno). Craig thought it had fantastic energy, and tells Tom the facial expressions were less smug, which hilariously merits a "woo!" from Camilla and a round of applause from the audience. "It's not me, it's the dance," Tom retorts. Oh, Tom. I'm almost finding you tolerable tonight, please don't spoil it with your idiot words. "It's the dance that made you smug," says Bruce. HA! Arlene says she feels like she's picked on Tom this series (apparently Arlene has been temporarily possessed by the forum posters on DigitalSpy), but applauds Tom for selling the dance and flirting with everyone. Bruce tells them they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: Tom blathers on about something which I don't really understand, but I think is related to his trip from earlier. Tess asks Camilla how it would feel to win; Camilla cannot speak, so Tom says that the professionals work them so hard to get to this stage. Scores: nine from Craig, tens from Arlene and Len and nine from Bruno for a total of 38. Bruno's score gets boos, unusually [I LOVED this bit. Stupid audience! - Carrie]. Tom is happy that it was a better score than last time. It's a total of 73, which is really not too shabby at all.

Next are Lisa and Brendan. In the VT, we relive Lisa's embarrassing and awkward initial salsa, which didn't have "the Jews", according to Bruno. Things improved when she got a chance to do ballroom. Brendan says you don't know how your partner is going to react before you've had to do a danceoff, but Lisa pulled it off when she had to re-do her samba. He thinks they're almost a perfect Strictly pairing. Note the "almost". He's very proud to be in the final with Lisa.

They are reprising the cha cha cha, in Lisa's car wash dress, to Amy Winehouse's 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which still feels like such a misfitting choice of song. Brendan is mouthing stuff at people in the audience, which is weird. It does rather look at times as if Lisa is frantically trying to remember what her next step is - I don't think this is as good as the first time they did it, personally. Bruno calls it "truly eye-popping brilliant", with enough Jews to satisfy the thirst of the nation. He says Lisa's placement has improved dramatically, and "almost hits Len in the face", though not nearly close enough for my liking. Craig loved this char char char. Arlene says Lisa has taken on the judges' comments more than anyone else - she's straightened her knees since last time. Len says her New Yorks have improved - she's changed so much from the nervous girl we first saw. Bruce says they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: no pro has ever won twice, how would it feel for Brendan? He just wants Lisa to win it. Bless. Lisa is very emotional. Scores: tens all round for another perfect score. And I'm sorry, but that is such bullshit. If anyone can explain to me how it is fair that Alesha never got a perfect score, and Lisa now has THREE, I will be waiting for them with a long list of all the reasons why they are wrong. God, the overmarking this series is enough to make you weep. Sort it out next year, please. Confiscate everyone's paddles 7-10 (especially Len's) for the first half of the series, that'd be a good start. Fucking hell. Lisa gets 80/80. That is INSANE. And I like Lisa.

Moar filler: people across the country are voting, though apparently people are not voting for their favourite dancer, just for who they think is "wew fit". Sigh. There are some friends and relations of the celebrities thrown in for good measure, and if this were The X Factor, Rachel would be on course to win, because Will Young clearly trumps Johnny Vaughan and Tina Hobley.

So, final totals: Lisa and Brendan have 80, Rachel and Vincent have 79 and Tom and Camilla have 73, which makes their scores 3,2,1 respectively. But wait, there's more! We add those to last week's totals: which give Rachel and Lisa seven each, and Tom five, which is then needlessly translated again to be three points for Rachel and Lisa, and one for Tom. My head hurts. Tess reminds us that this is not a ZOMG FIX because there is no danceoff, so any couple could be saved from elimination and in the event of a tie, the two couples with the highest audience vote will go through. Phone lines are now open!

A reminder of all the performances: Rachel and Vincent's good foxtrot, Tom and Camilla's good foxtrot, Lisa and Brendan's good foxtrot, Rachel's lovely rumba, Tom's great salsa and Lisa's RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING OVERMARKED cha cha cha. My apologies for the editorialising there.

Oh, but we're not done yet: more eliminated dancers on parade! We see Cherie fucking up her paso, John phoning his in, and Mark just being a hot mess. Far too much of this VT is given over to John Sergeant-related drama. Back in the studio, Bruce jokes that he dreamt that John and Gary were in a dance-off, and the judges' score was -40.

Mark and Hayley return with their clunky and awkward samba, Andrew and Ola reprise their head-bangy tango. Crikey, we really had some crappy-ass dancers this year, didn't we? Oh, this might turn things around: Heather and Brian's Viennese waltz is lovely, if you ignore the "singers" massacring 'Vision of Love' once again. My PVR cuts off here because the show ran over, so off to iPlayer we go: Cherie and James with their American Smooth (and huge applause when they come on, which is nice). James actually carries Cherie off in their reverse lift position. John and Kristina tie things up with their Paso Doble, and John isn't even bloody trying as usual. You know, I might understand the LOL JOHN SERGEANT LEGERND stuff if he'd made any effort, but it really doesn't look like he ever did.

Tess promises the remaining celebs coming back in the results show, but because that's not nearly enough filler, we have Bruce singing 'What The World Needs Now Is Love', accompanied by all the female celebrities minus Rachel, Lisa...and Jodie. Hmm. He dances with Kristina and Flavia, and then Anton walks on ostensibly to sing the rest of the song and is shoved offstage by Bruce. I enjoyed that probably more than I should've.

"How brilliant was that?" asks Tess. Oh, Tess, you don't want to know the answer. She wants to know when she'll get her chance to dance with the boys. Hopefully NEVER. Obligatory VT about how all the celebs, like, rilly rilly want to win. I'd never have guessed. Tom actually remembers to say "one of the best days of our lives" this time, presumably having been read the riot act by his WIFE whom he RECENTLY MARRIED on what one would hope was the actual best day of his life.

The "showlines" will close at 8:30pm, per Bruce, and we'll be back at 9pm. O rly?


My PVR starts recording at 9pm. I have to fast-forward through seven-and-a-half minutes of Casualty. And don't even get me started on how ridiculous it is that Jessica feeling a bit faint on the stairs somehow results in her FLIPPING OVER THE BANNISTER, for fuck's sake.

Anyway: earlier tonight, these three couples battled it out to be in the final two, but who will it be? This is the Strictly Come Dancing grand final! Live! Again!

The audience are rapturous in their applause, and someone in the audience is shouting for Rachel. Shortly, very shortly we will find out who will be going head to head for the big prize. The two couples with the highest combined points will be going through.

Refreshingly, we're going to find out without further ado. Rachel and Vincent were "nothing less than brilliant", Tom had "the ease of Fred Astaire and the rhythm of Gene Kelly" and Lisa was "fantastic and full of confidence". But did the viewers agree?

In no particular order, the first couple definitely through to the final two is: Tom and Camilla! Which means they won the public vote, so we might as well all go home now. The second couple who will dance for the title is Rachel and Vincent. So Lisa and Brendan are out, and Tom and Rachel are going head to head to win that trophy. Bruce says there are no losers, they are all winners. Except Lisa and Brendan. We see their highlights VT: they've had "the rockiest road", as Lisa says, but she wouldn't want to change it at all. Brendan is proud of her. Lisa is proud of how much she has improved, and says Brendan was the perfect partner for her. She says he's been her rock, which is fine if you discount all those times he flounced off and left her crying in the corner by herself, like in WEEK ONE. When she might have actually needed support. Dammit, Brendan.

"You could have been winners in lots of our previous series, you really could," says Bruce. Except clearly not, because they never had the public support, which is kind of pivotal to the whole "actually winning" side of things. And the show really needs to drop this whole "best series ever" angle now that they've resorted to actively insulting previous winners. Lisa says she already feels like a winner, and thanks everyone for the whole experience. Brendan says she deserved to be here tonight (dig, perhaps?) [oh, indisputably! Looking forward to Brendan in a tabloid newspaper near you soon - Carrie] and Lisa yells "thank you for letting me do the show!" Bless. They will be back to do their showdance later, which puts the lie to Tess's "you must make the final two to do your showdance, Tom" statement from earlier.

The decision of who will win is now entirely in our hands - the judges will now only comment, not score, and the totals have been reset to zero. Both couples will now dance at the same time, doing their Viennese waltz. It's the perfect opportunity, says Bruce, to make a direct comparison. As opposed to earlier, when we had absolutely no way of comparing three fucking foxtrots? They're dancing to 'Unbreakable', and there's a bit where they're out of synch, and indeed a bit where Rachel starts the next part of a sequence a second or so too early, realises, and then just sort of hangs there awkwardly for a moment until it's time to move on. Ouch. Ooh, then they switch partners momentarily, and if it were possible to vote for Vincent and Camilla to win, I probably would. That's a rather sad reflection on this series.

We got to the judges for feedback. Bruce reminds us that they will not be scoring for the rest of the final. Or in Bruno's case, until he can nip out when nobody's looking and meet his dealer backstage. Apparently the comments are to "help the viewers decide", because Lord knows I'm just a simpleton who knows nothing about this dancing business. Len thought they were both excellent, but Rachel's footwork was better than Tom's. Bruno thought Tom led brilliantly and his hero Fred Astaire must be smiling down, but Rachel was better. Craig thought Rachel and Vincent stood out because theirs was a little smoother - they had less rise and fall than Tom and Camilla. Arlene thought Rachel turned the dance into a floating dream, while Tom was the surfer riding the wave. Once again we are told it is very very hard for the man to lead (Jesus wept), but Tom really led Camilla.

Filler? Yes please! We look at the stories of Jodie, Christine and Austin. Oh, Jodie. I miss her so much. Her presence in the VT is disappointly fleeting. Len throws a snit fit over Austin's paso, then there's Christine's nightmarish tango, then Austin struggling with his lifts and being sent home in favour of Lisa and Brendan, a decision which I still don't agree with.

Bruce tells us that sadly Jodie is not well and cannot join us at the final. Awww. Bruce says he'll see her on the golf course. Hee! So this is basically just Christine and Austin, then. Christine and Matthew do their American smooth to 'Singing In The Rain', which never turns into the Mint Royale version, however much I hope it's going to. Austin and Erin are reprising their jive, which I loved. It's still great, and makes me feel robbed that they weren't in the final. Austin does a kind of half-cartwheel, half-backflip thing, then throws Erin up into a ZOMG ILLEGAL TABLETOP LIFT. Yeah, so they're kind of trying to prove a point here, and I don't blame them.

Tess is in the audience as Christine and Austin return to sit down. Tess asks why the public liked Christine so much before; she thinks it's because she was living the dream on behalf of everyone at home. Austin got to dance in the final but not quite as he would've liked, says Tess. Austin points out that he's never danced before either, and was shocked at how much he likes dancing. He says having a pro partner like Erin who has the capacity to teach "basic idiots like myself" makes all the difference.

Now it's time for Lisa and Brendan's showdance, "by popular demand", as Bruce says, pretending that anyone wanted Lisa to stay in the show beyond the halfway point who wasn't one of the judges. Lisa is wearing a swimming costume with a slash right down the front and dancing to 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'. It's...very odd. Lots of pained faces from Lisa, and lots of lifts that don't really work - Brendan tries to do that move from the demonstration last week where the female dancer rolls up the male's body, and he clearly does not have the upper body strength to pull it off and almost drops Lisa about three times in the process. Yeah, that showdance would not have won them the contest. Sorry guys. Nice try, but no cigar.

It's so close, says Bruce! It could be anyone! Even Austin, despite having been eliminated! This year has been THAT GOOD! Seriously, can it. We go to Len, who says he wants excitement in a showdance - lots of lifts, and a smattering of the dancing they have learnt. Bruno reminds us they have no rules, and they can do whatever they want. He says it's always good to surprise the judges and public, and as we'll see, there's no chance of that tonight. Craig wants "unadulterated anarchy" on the dancefloor, and Arlene wants "death-defying lifts", though presumably not quite so literally death-defying as Lisa and Brendan's just were.

In the House of Tesstosterone: Camilla is dressed as some kind of harlequin traveller, Tom's in tails, Rachel's in a sparkly blue swimsuit with long fringing, and Vincent's got his chest hair out.

Rachel and Vincent are on first: their routine is to 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)'. Oh God, Rachel has a bow on her arse. What the hell? One thing I will say in this dance's favour is that it's possibly the most animated I've seen Rachel look all series. On the other hand, it's deeply underwhelming. Too much lifting, no real surprises in the dancing - it looks more like a "best of" than a new dance. It's a shame, but this is a rare choreographic misfire from Vincent. At the end, he slides Rachel across the floor, only for her to lose her balance in the final position and topple onto her face with her arse in the air. She recovers, but looks a little defeated.

They get a standing ovation, and Len thinks they were listening to what he said he was looking for. He liked their engagement with each other and the audience. Bruno says the feeling is very good, and they blended all the Latin dances. He says there were just the right amount of lifts without going over the top, which can happen sometimes. Like, say, the series four finale. Craig thought it was brilliant, apart from the topple at the end. Vincent takes the blame, bless him. Arlene says "if eyes could be Flashdance, you have it". Translations on a postcard to the usual address, please.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess wishes them the best of luck. Vincent hopes for scores, but there are none, of course. Tess shepherds them off and beckons on Tom and Camilla. "Tear it up, Tom! Go on, Camilla!" says Tess.

They start their routine (to 'If My Friends Could See Me Now') at the top of the steps, with some more panto acting. Then Tom does his Fred Astaire routine from his quickstep. This is basically everything I hate about Tom condensed into one easily loathsome package. Camilla appears to be some sort of robot in the whole endeavour. It's all very vaudeville, emphasis on the "vile" if you're me.

Sidebar, if I may: I saw a lot of people on the internet on Saturday night saying this was literally the best thing they had ever seen, which I was flummoxed by. Best showdance of the night? Yes, definitely, but it was a bit of a rum field all round as far as I was concerned. Certainly in the grander scope of Strictly showdances through history, or indeed best things ever, I don't see what was so special about it. It's such a shame, because we had two great showdances last year (Matt holding Flavia up by the vagina! Alesha flying! [With her dress that was also a cape! - Carrie]) and this year we had three mediocre ones. Best series ever? My arse.

Arlene can only say "wow", apparently. It wasn't just brilliant for an amateur, it was brilliant for a profesional. Len loved the whole thing - it had comedy (well, "comedy"), quickstep, tango - he liked Rachel's, but this was something else. Bruno says showdances could never be more showy than this (lie). "Whatever you had, you threw it out there, and everybody lapped it up!" he says. I think that was my problem with all three of the showdances this year - they felt more like a lot of ideas cobbled together in the hope of coherence, rather than an actual completed dance, though I concede that Tom's was the most coherent of the lot. Craig says "you're like Bisto gravy darling, you save the best 'til last." Camilla and Tom are ecstatic, as well they might be.

House of Tesstosterone: Camilla never thought she'd hear those words from Craig. And then my PVR cuts out again, so it's back to iPlayer. Damn you, BBC!

Both couples have performed their last dances, so we get a final reminder of their performances from the second show. The always-thrilling Viennese waltz showdown, and then two underwhelming showdances, one slightly less so than the other. Whee.

Bruce reminds us that the lines will be closing in 10 minutes, "so if you want to vote for your favourite, you don't have to wait long". But he's not doddery, etc. And that means of course we've got 10 minutes of filler ahead of us, so we've got the artist behind this year's best-selling album: Duffy. Hey, at least it wasn't Adele. Small mercies, eh? No pun intended, for she is indeed singing 'Mercy'. She does an odd arm-dance during the chorus. Brian and Kristina come on to do a bit of cha cha cha for the second verse. Wow, Kristina can kick her legs up high. And wow, Duffy's face is almost as expressive as Rachel's!

Now there's another "special treat" for us: James and Ola with a cha cha cha to a jazzed-up 'Summertime'. I am so over both James and Ola at this point, so I couldn't care less, to be honest, though I'm sure this will have made Carrie happy. [Heee, it did! It was possibly my highlight of the night. I liked Ola's dress that made her look like a sexy Christmas tree, and I liked James's vest. James may be "tender" with Cherie, but he and Ola have lust, which is much more fun to watch. - Carrie]

"How many dances can there be in this wonderful night?" wonders Bruce. Not many more, I hope. Bruce is in the audience with first-ever champion Natasha Kaplinsky, who says she wouldn't have got past the first week in this series (and I know she's not really rated that highly in the list of previous winners, but come on, she wasn't that bad). Claudia is sitting next to her, which Bruce doesn't spot at first. Natasha says that at this point everyone is bruised and tired, but it's an amazing feeling. Bruce reminds us that during the first ever show, Natasha asked Bruce to help her get eliminated. Bruce claims her exact words were "Bruce, can you possibly get me off now?" Words which she later repeated to Brendan, if the tabloids are to be believed. Thank you, I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your waitress! Natasha talks about her baby, who is not sleeping through the night. His name is Arlo - "was that the name of the hospital?" asks Bruce. Natasha says she is very tired. It's the first time she's been back, she adds. Bruce gets cross with an off-camera person who's giving him "the hurry up". Oh dear.

Finally, some filler I'm actually interested in: the other four winners, all dancing together! (I'm guessing Natasha was asked, but declined due to aforementioned baby-related exhaustion.) A VT says it will be "the best of the best". And, presumably Darren Gough. "The champions are coming back, and we're a force to be reckoned with," says Alesha. I'm disappointed she didn't say "coming back strong" in a Mis-Teeq style. Tess declares the phone lines officially closed, so while the votes are being counted, here are Alesha, Mark, Darren, Jill and their partners.

It's awesome to see Alesha and Jill dancing together, though to be honest I could take or leave the other two. It is quite impressive how they're making all of their most famous routines fit 'Let Me Entertain You', though. And even with Darren Gough in the mix, the standard here compared to the standard of this year's finalists makes an even more obvious mockery of all the "best series ever" bollocks. I know I keep saying it, but when the show keeps making ridiculous and unfounded claims, I feel the need to refute them as often as possible.

Tess sits with Rachel's brothers, whom she calls "The Mitchells", and they are very proud of her. They have, however, not been inspired to dance by their sister's success. Tess then turns to Clare, Tom's BRAND NEW WIFE, who sacrificed her HONEYMOON and WEDDING for this show. She says how Tom is so happy on the dancefloor that it makes her happy. Tom's mum says he is very lucky to be in this competition (hee) and has been brilliant.

A VT looking back at the two finalists' time on the show. Rachel loves Vincent, Vincent loves Rachel, Tom loves Camilla, Camilla loves Tom. Really, there is nothing here that we haven't heard a gazillion times before, so let's just move on to the next bit.

AT LAST, it's time for the results. Sixteen couples are down to two. This is the moment of truth. Rachel and Vincent have been in the dance-off three times, but have also broken all kinds of records. Tom has wanted to dance like Fred Astaire all his life, and postponed his HONEYMOON, which came after his WEDDING, to take part in this show. The winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2008 are...Tom and Camilla!

Rachel smiles graciously in defeat, having peaked in second position just like during her solo career, and Camilla loses her shit, Alexandra-style. The other contestants all come on to congratulate the victors, and Tom's WIFE, who is RECENT, applauds in the audience. Everyone kisses and hugs Tom, and LOL JOHN SERGEANT LEGERND! stands behind the glitterball trophy, prompting Bruce to scold him that he's not the winner. Heh. Rachel has had the best time of her life, and wants to thank everyone who made this possible, especially Vincent. Tess repeats her "will you carry on seeing each other?" line, despite having almost clearing the room with its inappropriateness last year. Tom's first thanks go to his WIFE, and he can't wait to be a newlywed (heh). He thanks everyone at the pub and at Ken's house (okay), and tells Camilla that really it's all about her because she earned it. Awww. Maybe he's not so bad after all. Camilla wants to thank her parents, who couldn't be here tonight, though she's been phoning them all night to keep them updated, and her boyfriend. "Of course, you're from Denmark!" says Bruce, as though this has just occurred to him.

It's time to present the trophy, and Tom sweetly stands back and lets Camilla lift it. Bruce thanks the other contestants, the judges ("who never get thanked enough", as Craig is bopping away to a song in his head) and the viewers at home. Tom and Camilla dance their victory dance to 'I've Had The Time Of My Life', and it is very silly, as you'd expect, but they both look so happy, I don't want to be a bitch about it. First time for everything, I know. And then Tom's NEW WIFE comes on to congratulate him.

And that's the end of that! A slightly dissatisfying finale which crowned a slightly dissatisfying winner (he was probably the best on the night, but Rachel was better across the series, in my opinion) to end a slightly dissatisfying series. Let's hope that next year we get some more engaging celebrities (preferably not as many as sixteen) and the judges can it with the goddamn overmarking already. Whatever happens, we will be here to recap the whole thing and we hope you'll join us. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and of course: keeeeeeeep dancing!

Monday, 15 December 2008

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- ...what the BBC's Controller of Entertainment Production looks like.
- There was no fix and nothing underhand about Saturday's result - it was just that their long list of contingencies did not happen to include what would happen if two people tied at the top of the leaderboard.
- The number of bizarre conspiracy theories stemming from the viewers of this show will never cease to amaze us.
- The judges' scores will roll over to this week as well as the viewers' votes, and the tally thus far will be displayed at the beginning of Saturday's show. The scores will then be started afresh once the third place contestant has been eliminated, before the final two go on to do their group Viennese Waltz and show dance. Good, well done BBC.
- Anything can happen in the dance-off. Also: on Hallowe'en.
- Jill Halfpenny now makes people put money in the swearbox every time they mention her jive.
- Camilla, perhaps understandably, has little sympathy for Vincent's claims that he's been "waiting for a year" to get into the final.
- Tom apparently has plans to repeat his tap-dancing quickstep bullshit as part of his showdance. Give me strength.
- Ian has a separate wardrobe for his shirts and keeps them in colour-coordinated order. He also dresses up as a frog for Camilla. The mind boggles. However, he also owns lots of hats. SHOCKER.
- This series is the first time in Strictly history that 40/40 has been awarded more than once in the same series. Possibly because of all the insane overmarking, but who knows?
- There will be three(!) foxtrots in the final. Hardest ballroom style, my ass.
- Mark Ramprakash is still an extremely boring man, but at least he does still dance outside of official Strictly appearances occasionally. Mentioning no names, Darren Gough.
- Ramprakash's daughters tape The X Factor.
- Judging by the photos from her childhood, Flavia appears not to have heeded her mother's warning about her face staying that way if the wind changes.
- Ian thinks Tom's strong point is "showing himself off". Give that man a prize!
- Kristian Digby is not good at pretending he thinks Lisa should win.
- Austin Healey neighs, and likes to eat hay.
- The men's latin shirts have cycling shorts attached to the bottom to prevent them from coming untucked when they're dancing.
- Lisa used to cry a lot as a child. Thank heavens she grew out of that, eh?
- Lisa's showdance outfit is more "Strictly Come Swimming", per Hilary Alexander.
- People, as a whole, tend to find the foxtrot more glamorous than the waltz. Apparently.
- Russell Watson is a weekend transvestite.
- Alesha wears hot-pants in her new video. Russell Watson does not do the same in his.
- The showdance songs are 'If My Friends Could See Me Now' (Tom - of course), 'I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)' (Lisa) and 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)' (Rachel). If the final is fought on the number of parentheses used in song titles, Tom will lose. Sadly we suspect this will not turn out to be the case.
- According to Tom, there is no such word as "excuse me" in Danish. He apparently hasn't noticed it's actually two words in English.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Poor mathematics. And all that jazz

The semi-final LIVE! results show
Tx 13th December 2008

The BBC HD ad where it warns you that your eyes will bleed if you watch - srsly not the best way to convince me to invest.

Three couples are battling it out for a place in the final! This is the Strictly semi-final! LIVE!

Titles! Clapping! Drink!

Bruce welcomes us to the results show. Tess tells us the three couples have danced their hearts out, but because there was a tie at the top, they are freezing the phone lines NOW. To me, this indicates they will unfreeze them a bit later. What do you think? This will become important. [It was a bit weird, since we don't know that the phone lines wouldn't usually be closed at the beginning of the results show on a Saturday, because they never have the results show on a Saturday. Anyway, what I heard was: "You can't stop Tom from being voted out, so we're changing the rules." - Georgi]

What's been happening backstage? Tom says it couldn't get much bigger than this - "there's me and two girls." SNIGGER! Lisa and Brendan did a nice Argentine tango; Tom slipped and is fretting about being the worst; Lisa didn't see Tom's dance cos she was getting changed [I wish I'd thought of that - Steve]; Brendan is proud of Lisa and of them as a couple, and jumps up and down, then they cry; Camilla wept because she crumbled under pressure and forgot how to choreograph; Vincent got in a strop because Len slagged his choreography. EXCITING STUFF.

Tess reminds us that Lisa and Rachel are tied at the top of the leaderboard, and Tom is at the bottom. Also THE PHONE LINES HAVE NOW CLOSED. So you can't vote. At all. Ever. But they're still going to recap the performances. Still, I guess it's better than filling the spare time with more Bruce-Len skits.

Bruce welcomes the judges - "la creme de la creme. That's French for the best we could get." Ha. Len says he has been impressed from week one with the standard in this series, and the final three are the cherry on the cake. He thinks this is the toughest test on television. [I'd take it over I'm A Celebrity, personally. - Georgi] Arlene claps like a seal. Bruno says there was plenty to get going for, and it was a case of girl power unleashed - "both of my girls did me proud". Tragically we have no reprise of "IT'S DIVA TIIIIIIIIME!" Craig expects that finalists should dance to the very best of their abilities, and nothing less than perfection is appropriate. Arlene says to be a Strictly champion, you need desire, dedication and a devotion to dance. And possibly other qualities beginning with D. [Due diligence? - Steve]

Here is a showdance from the world champions - Craig Smith and Natalie Wolf. Craig has a see-through sparkly top. Natalie has dressed herself from Ola's cast-offs. They do lots of very nice lifts, including a twirly one at the end where Natalie rolls herself up Craig's torso. It's all pretty, but it's basically rhythmic gymnastics. I half-expect Gabby Logan to rush onto the floor and demand to be allowed to take part.

Tess decides that Natalie does not eat chip butties. This is because Tess is GRITTY AND NORTHERN. She asks Lisa and Brendan how they'll prepare for a similar showdance. Brendan wails, "I need to go to the gym!" and pretends to storm off. Tess encourages the boys to take their shirts off. LEAVE IT, DALY. Tom says he won't do lifts, and will do tap-dancing instead. [Oh joy. - Steve] He says his new wife Clare, whom he has married, has spotted him extending his arms in his sleep. Camilla corrects his hand position. Ha! Pwned by Dallerup. Rachel is tedious in talking about her Journey. [Drink! - Georgi] Vincent is choreographing Rachel and Alex's first dance at their wedding, which is cute.

Bruce says that we don't just love the celebrities. I'd go as far as saying that we don't even love the celebrities in some cases. Anyway, it's all a way of welcoming Matthew, Karen, Darren, Lilia, James and Ola to the floor in a group jive. All lovely. Well done.

Tess reminds us NOT TO VOTE BECAUSE THE PHONE LINES ARE CLOSED. She goes to talk to Austin, but not Erin, whom she studiously ignores. [Which was really fucking RUDE, I thought. Poor Erin. - Georgi] [Maybe if Erin works on her guns for next year things will be different? - Steve] Matt Dawson claims that he is devastated at Austin's exit; Austin claims he will never ever ever dance again. Then he moves on to enthuse about how great all the semi-finalists are. Matt Dawson is disappointed not to have A RUGBY PLAYER in the final, but the performances tonight are loads better than his were. True fact. Austin and Matt cuddle. OF COURSE THEY DO. Austin talks about how good the dances were, including Rachel's Argentine tango (although he begins to say "American Smooth" and then corrects himself), and then says he wants Tom to win because it is so hard for men to dance.

Bruce is talking to June Whitfield, who doesn't know how the judges can possibly judge. Well, if in doubt, they don't, June, have you not been watching? She then says that it is hard for men to dance with professional partners, but the girls are also terrific, and she couldn't choose who should win, so she'll plead the Fifth. Which doesn't exist in this country. Bruce and June reminisce about their youth, and then she says that they couldn't do the show without him. Heh.

This week on It Takes Two - judges, contestants, dancers, alumna, celebrity fans. RUSSELL WATSON! ALESHA! JAMES! LILIA! OLA! Very excited now.

We are just a few minutes away from announcing the fate of the three semi-finalists, so in the meantime, let's watch the cast of Chicago, along with Ian, Hayley, James, Matthew, Flavia, and Ola, performing All That Jazz. Ian is clearly having the best time ever, and it's so adorable.

Now it is time to find out who will go through to this year's Grand Final. It is the Moment Of Truth. Tess reveals the outcome of tonight's show, and reminds us that the phone lines have closed. She adds that all the votes will be carried over to next week. While we're still digesting that, she declares that all three couples will go through to next week. Brendan looks shellshocked. Everyone does a ring-a-roses and there is much screeching and hugging. [Ha ha, I love how everyone else is hugging, while Brendan just stands there with a grin plastered on his face, clearly thinking, "Hang on a minute..." - Georgi]

But really, this is fucked. Obviously this has happened because there was no way to save Tom from the bottom two and he'd have been out on his protruding arse against either Lisa or Rachel in the dance-off. Where the BBC have fallen down is that this would have been A GOOD THING. Tom is the weaker dancer. And if people are too fucking stupid to have realised that he could never have been saved, they deserve to be robbed blind on the phone voting. Also stupid? The BBC. It was apparent within three seconds of the judges' leaderboard being published that Tom was screwed, leading to much celebration in my house. Did they have no contingency plans? Or are they just really bad at counting?

Oh, whatever. I'm off to rant elsewhere. Very annoyed indeed. Lisa ftw!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

You know when you've been tango-ed

Tx 13th December 2008

Last weekend was one of the most dramatic in Strictly history! Austin went out! Brendan had a hissy fit! Three celebrities remain! Two will dance-off LIVE later tonight! This! Is! Strictly! Come! Dancing! Titles!

Welcome your hosts, Brucie and Tess, Daly dresswatch: not too awful, long, red and strapless. Although actually I'm worried her tits might go flying at any moment. Brucie makes a joke about Anton bribing people to vote for him or something. It doesn't really make sense. Let's meet the (dwindling) stars of the show: Tom and Camilla; Lisa and Brendan; Rachel and Vincent. Lisa's got her Alesha hip-shake on, yay. Brucie can't talk properly. Tonight the couples will be doing the Argentine tango, plus their favourite dance of the series - although not the same routine they did before.

First up are Lisa and Brendan. Bruce mentions Brendan storming out of the studio last week, and Brendan looks sheepish, heh. Brendan was ANGRY because he didn't think Austin and Erin's salsa was any better than their jive. He may have a point. They've decided to dance the quickstep this week, which is braver than doing whatever they got their highest mark for. Brendan has never done the Argentine tango before - danger! What Will Happen? Let's see...

First I must say that Lisa's outfit is sexxxxxy, and I love her little gloves. Not sure what the music is, it's tango music with a drum beat behind it. The tango is seriously sultry though - love it. Bruce says it's a good time to welcome the singers, even though they haven't sung anything yet. Brucie harks back to the "SEV-UNN!" joke from a couple of weeks ago, because actually the Severn doesn't run through Bristol. Brucie almost forgets about Lisa and Brendan who are waiting for their comments. [I wanted Brendan to start hitting the desk and telling them, "It's all about LISA, guys!" - Carrie] Len thought they got into the character of the dance, and liked all the moves - in conclusion, he loved it. Bruno says the first thing he saw was "Lisa's legs reaching to the outer limits - you were wrapping around Brendan like Octopussy!" He says some of the footwork could have been more precise, though. Craig liked the spiky nature of it and the passion, and picks on a few little details. Arlene thinks Brendan seems more nervous than any of the celebrities. Awww, he doesn't want to let Lisa down. Arlene says that Lisa's "legs are made for wrapping", but she didn't quite "glide and caress the floor" enough.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess explains that the Argentine tango is very difficult, and Brendan says he's brought his mum over from New Zealand to watch the show for the first time. Aww. The judges scores are in: Craig - 8, Arlene - 8, at which point the audience seem to be in a state of shock, but they are followed by: Len - 10, Bruno - 9. So, a total of 35, which may not be good enough at this point, but we'll see.

Bruce is joined by Flavia to demonstrate some Argentine tango moves. She pretends to kick him in the nuts. Tom and Camilla are next, dancing the jive. Tom and Camilla were over the moon with their 10s last week. Tom says he danced as Tom, rather than trying to act. Their VT is quite dull. Tom feels inferior to Lisa and Rachel [because he is - Carrie], and does not want to leave.

Oh, this might be the campest thing all evening. They're dancing to 'Waterloo'. It has great energy, and their synchronisation is good too. I've just realised I'm actually enjoying one of Tom's routines. [I thought it was a pretty rubbish routine. Although I did like Camilla's crazy Latin faces. She and Karen should have a face-off. - Carrie] Tom Chesthair Watch: still there. Craig says Tom had more energy in the kicks and flicks than the last time he jived, but they got a bit lazy towards the end. Craig wasn't thrilled by the routine, which he didn't think showed Tom off to his full potential. Arlene says in terms of energy it was "more exciting than the 50% off sale at Woolworths". [At least now we know Arlene's erratic behaviour is due to a sugar high from discounted pick 'n' mix. - Steve] However, sometimes Tom lost the rhythm. Len liked some of the moves, especially the Miami special, whatever that is, and overall he thought it was brilliant. Bruno wonders if this could be Tom's Waterloo, because it wasn't as good as it could have been.

Backstage, Tess points out that the jive was one of Tom and Camilla's lowest scoring dances the first time round. At least they'll probably get better than they did last time. Tess tries to console them with the fact that Austin gave them a standing ovation. The scores are in: 8s from everyone except Len, who gives them a 9, for a total of 33.

The final couple are Rachel and Vincent. Bruce makes a joke about learning modern slang to impress Rachel, because she is like down with the kidz innit. Vincent has an obvious advantage in the Argentine tango, what with being the world champion and everything. Don't forget it is a Very Difficult Dance. Rachel is struggling under the pressure.

Rachel's dress is very glam - black, backless and sparkly. They're dancing to 'When Doves Cry', which... kind of works. It's all very precise, but doesn't have as much character as Lisa and Brendan's tango. They're so going to get 10s though. The audience are on their feet. Arlene says the dance is about longing and yearning, and when Rachel looked into Vincent's eyes, they connected. Also, if legs could talk, Rachel's legs "would be telling so many secrets". Len calls it a "technical tour de force", but if he was going to be finnicky - which of course he isn't - it could have had more of a dramatic edge. But he didn't mention Lisa's stumble, so he is not even bothered. Which is kind of like saying: well, it's the semi-final, let's just give everyone 10s for the hell of it. Bruno says that at moments they "seemed to morph into a sensual being with four legs". He thought it was executed with "finesse and ease". Craig says what's difficult is maintaining the connection and stillness of the upper body while the legs are going mad, but they did it brilliantly. Bruce asks about a particular move, and Craig says it was a bit dodgy and he shouldn't have mentioned it.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Rachel says her legs are like jelly, though not literally. Vincent emphasises how difficult the choreography was. The scores are in: Craig - 9, Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10, for a triumphant 39, which equals Mark Ramprakash's record for the dance.

The leaderboard looks like this at the halfway point: Rachel and Vincent are top with 39, followed by Lisa and Brendan with 35, and Tom and Camilla are at the bottom with 33.

Before Lisa and Brendan do their second dance, the quickstep, we have a VT of their Strictly story. Brendan says he doesn't know how to deal with Lisa crying because he's "not that kind of person". Lulz. By the way, they do not want to leave.

I don't know the song they're dancing to, but I assume it's called 'Dancing in the Dark'. Not the Bruce Springsteen one though. Lisa and Brendan are generally fab. Bruce goes over to Len, who says they had body contact and maintained the movement, and have produced two fantastic dances tonight. Bruno says there's nothing dark about their dance - Lisa was like a shooting star, and he loved it. Craig says his complaint last time was the gapping, and this time they were "velcroed together". Arlene says Lisa has mastered the quickstep - "You've come a long way, baby." Brucie whispers to them that they're his favourites. Jinx!

Backstage, Lisa is all like, "I never thought I'd be in the semi-final, and Brendan is so great." The scores are in: 10s across the board, for a perfect 40! Brendan won't be storming off tonight then.

Tom and Camilla are next, with their Argentine tango. First, their Strictly story. Did you know Tom has recently GOT MARRIED? Tom has always wanted to learn to dance. Blah, blah, blah. Strictly has been the best chapter in Tom's life. Better than GETTING MARRIED?

Tom and Camilla are tangoing to traditional tango music, so yays for that. It's a bit boring though, and Tom isn't masterful enough. The choreography didn't look as difficult as Lisa's or Rachel's. Bruno says that Tom went for performance and got it right. Craig thinks it was right to use Tom's acting experience [since said "acting experience" gave birth to the Paso Face, I have my doubts about this - Steve], but he thought it was style over substance. However, he loved the routine and thought it was controlled and believable. Arlene says there was a lot of story, not a lot of steps and figures, but it was "like moving through mercury". What? Len says he finds this dance hard to judge - so just as usual then. Brucie says they're his favourites.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tom says he's very nervous. The scores are in: 8s from Craig and Arlene, 9s from Len and Bruno, for a total of 34. Could we see Tom and Camilla in their first dance-off tonight?

The final couple is Rachel and Vincent, doing the American smooth. Will Rachel take Vincent to the final? In their VT, Rachel confesses to being obsessed with Dirty Dancing, so it's a shame she didn't get partnered with Brendan really. Rachel wants her personality to come out, which would be easier if she had one. They are Best Friends 4 Eva. And they want to get to the final.

They're dancing to 'Mandy', and it's good, but dull. Pretty cheesetastic, really. It's obviously a safe option too, considering the high marks they got for their foxtrot. Arlene says that if ever there's a return to Hollywood movies, "Rachel is our Ginger Rogers" - she "puts the Rs in rapture and romance". Len says he didn't think it was a foxtrot, it was "wandering around doing steps". Bruno says it had "the quality of beautiful dreams". Craig says Len is wrong, and in an American smooth you can do whatever you like, and he thought it was gorgeous and he loved it. Well, we haven't had enough arguing this week, have we? Vincent and Rachel are Brucie's favourites.

Backstage, Tess reminds us that they've broken three records this series, and they must be pressed for time because they go straight to the judges' scores: 9s from Craig and Arlene, 8 from Len (boo!), and 10 from Bruno.

There's just time for a look at the final leaderboard: Lisa and Brendan and Rachel and Vincent are tied at the top with 75 points each, while Tom and Camilla have 67. I would think that means that since Lisa and Rachel both get three points and Tom only gets one, Tom won't actually be able to escape the dance-off. I can't say I won't be pleased if my mum is proved wrong about him winning. Recap!

That's your lot for now. Join Carrie later TONIGHT for the results show. The pros will be doing a group jive, and we'll be joined by the cast of Chicago. Until then, keeeeep dancing!

Monday, 8 December 2008

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- The BBC2 continuity guy is just as much of a skeeze as Tess Daly is.
- A Strictly Latin dress goes for around £1300.
- Brian Fortuna saying the word "quid" sounds so very wrong.
- Tom thought Austin was going to be in the final. Very sensibly, he left the "with me" part of that sentence unspoken.
- Brendan didn't think Austin's salsa was worth a 10. But then arguably Tom's rumba and Lisa's jive didn't deserve nines either, so this is all academic.
- Brendan has never done the Argentine tango before. He thinks climbing over Claudia's sofa and hiding may save him from humiliation.
- MATTHEW CUTLER USED TO HAVE DARK BROWN HAIR! Possibly people who watched the beginning of series three knew this, but it was news to Steve.
- Alesha and Matthew currently hold the record for the most tens awarded with 19. The way things are going this series, they will no longer be the record holders by about 6:20pm this Saturday.
- Tom has expanded the Paso Face to cover a typical reaction to having one's makeup done.
- Matthew Cutler's brother Jason is a fashion designer. We are saying absolutely nothing.
- Len loves the hokey-cokey.
- Ian and James scrub up well.
- Rachel and Vincent are a perfect package. Seriously, EVERYONE has said this at least once now.
- Apparently in series two it was not uncommon for Len to score lower than Arlene and Bruno. Ahh, such halcyon days.
- Darren's father is called Tony Bennett. Not THAT one, though.
- Camilla is planning to pull on Tom's strength as an actor in the Argentine Tango. Yeah, good luck with that.
- Many moons ago, the tango used to be a Latin dance and the jive was a ballroom dance. Madness!
- Arlene thinks there is a danger of Tom overacting in his AT. In other news: the sky is a bit blue and the Pope is sort of Catholic.
- Gethin is slightly bemused by the concept of an underskirt.
- The word "literally" is being thrown around with almost as much abandon as it has been on The X Factor.
- From certain angles, Gethin kind of looks like John Krasinski.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Hair today, gone later today

Results show

Tx 7th December 2008

"Last night" was quarter-final night! There were tears (Tom!), tantrums (Brendan!), and tens (guess who!), and now four must become three! This! Is! Strictly Come Dancing!


Bloody hell, the credits really take ages this series. TOO MANY DANCERS.

We welcome the celebs and their partners, and of course Bruce and Tess, who is wearing a purple version of the white lycra mini-dress she had a couple of weeks ago. Bruce welcomes us and declares that the pro dancers should get more credit - "the Italian bloke, the one with Lisa, the blonde girl, and the other one." Ha.

Tess explains the point of voting, and promises us a Vincent and Flavia Argentinian tango, like we've never seen that before; Bruce promises us Barry Manilow; Tess promises us a Brand-New dance and a Viennese waltz.

Recap. Austin and Erin were bottom of the leaderboard. He sticks his bottom lip out, and says that Craig could not have been bored because his lifts were so amazing. Sally Gunnell says Austin and Erin do not have a "relationship". Cliff Parisi admires Austin's backflip. Erin cries because she wants to reach the final. Head Judge Len says he would never have believed they'd be bottom, because Austin is a SPORTSMAN and gets tens just for turning up.

Lisa and Brendan did a beautiful waltz, and Christine Bleakley wishes she was half as good. She doesn't say that. Brendan was proud. Drink! Brendan threw a hissy-fit in the House of Tesstosterone, and Lisa's dad and sister laugh at him, as did most of the viewing public. Then Brendan quite rightly points out that the jive was an 8 if everything else that was worth an 8 is being marked as such, rather than given a 10. [I can't quite believe I'm saying this, but: word, Brendan. Although it's not as if Lisa hasn't benefited from her share of overmarking too. - Steve] Lisa adjusts her boobs.

Speaking of non-warranted 10s, Tom and Camilla got some, and then cried. Camilla feels that she let Tom down with her rumba choreography. Tom's friend reminds us that Tom has JUST GOT MARRIED.

Rachel and Vincent were this week's teachers' pets. Len wishes he had an 11. Expect him to come with a homemade paddle next week. Len has a bottle of white wine and glass of red in front of him in the judges' lair, and reminds us that Vincent is Good At Tango. Rachel's stepdad says they are like a blue-white diamond. Len concludes, "Who'd have thought we've have all four couples with marks in the 70s?" Well, me, for starters, because you KEEP GIVING OUT TENS FOR NO REASON.

Back in the studio, Bruno thinks last night we saw Tom achieving his full potential in the foxtrot. Backstage, Tom perks up and looks incredibly smug. Craig thinks the people at the bottom of the leaderboard are most in danger, but somebody has to go, and he hopes that the best couple win. Arlene says that in the semi-final they'll have the Argentine tango, which takes practice, passion and performance, and she'll be looking for perfection. Len says that it will be tough to send any couple home tonight, and he will feel sorry for whoever it is. "It LITERALLY is a tragedy that one of them have to go," he says. It's sodding not, Goodman. A tragedy is the death of an innocent person, not somebody leaving a competition as per the rules.

This week, we're going to see the hustle performed on Strictly for the first time by Brian and Kristina, to Boogie Wonderland. Kristina looks like the Genie from the lamp. It's all very shiny and discolicious, darling. Watch Warren and Kym from Dancing with the Stars hustling.

In Tess's domain, Rachel says...words; Austin is sulking and feels like a hedgehog and promises to leave his heart on the dance floor should he have to dance off. Tess asks him to leave his sleeves and get the guns out. Shut UP, Daly. Tom says...more words. Tess wishes everyone luck. Nobody cares what Lisa has to say, apparently.

The pros do a Viennese waltz. Kristina does that splits-walk thing again. There's a key change. The music stops abruptly. Lovely.

This week on It Takes Two - no big plans, apparently. [I don't get why they persist on trailing ITT in quite the way they do, given that so much of its content is based on what happens at the weekend, which they obviously do not know at the time of recording. Just have Claudia in a studio reminding us that it's on, for crying out loud. That's all you need. - Steve]

Vincent and Flavia do an Argentine tango with two other random Latin dancers. Flavia and the other lady do some weird table dancing routine. Vincent and the chap do some nice homoerotic tangoing together, intended to impress the watching laydees. I do love the Argentine tango dresses. Then the male-female couples dance together; there's a bit of partner-swapping; it finishes, everyone cheers.

Tess says it's the sexiest thing she's seen on a Sunday in ages; Austin giggles, but nobody else does. Lisa would love to learn the Argentine tango. "Arlene says it requires raw passion," says Tess. Lisa does a tiger growl at Rachel. Austin asks if he can dance with Vincent. Tess says no, but he would have to dance with no sleeves. Sue her for sexual harassment, Austin!

Here is Barry Manilow, singing Copacabana! His face looks really weird these days. Has he had a face-lift? [More than one, is my guess. - Steve] His cheeks don't move. Our pro dancers - Ian and Camilla, and Darren and Lilia, who are samba-rolling their hearts out. Why has nobody taken the possibility of literal choreography into account? [Because Brian Friedman was too busy on the other side? - Steve] Camilla's dress is really flouncy and ugly. There's an excruciating bit at the end where Manilow tries to dance with Camilla and Lilia. And then he shouts OLE! Wail, wail, wail.

What do our celebrities think about their rivals? Who cares? Oh, apparently we do. Tom says Austin's biggest strength is being a sportsman. He might be right. Austin admires Rachel's perfect scores. Rachel admires Lisa coming through the dance-off. Lisa thinks Austin is sneaky. Austin thinks Tom is likeable. Oh, I'm bored now. But suffice to say, nobody wants to leave.

Our votes have been counted, verified and added to the judges' scores, making THIS the Moment of Truth. Rachel appears to be hyperventilating. The couples who are safe - Rachel and Vincent; Tom and Camilla.

So it's the judges' bottom two to dance off - Austin and Erin v Lisa and Angry Brendan. Len's genius advice for the evening is to be proud that they have got this far, then tells Austin to stop being off time and move the hips more, and tells Lisa that the judges thought she was fantastic, though Craig may have said something-or-other, and to keep going as she was.

Then there's a weird bit where the couples go off to take their places, and Bruce says, "Just a minute, just a minute!" and tells them where they should be standing, even though they already know. Anyway, Austin and Erin dance first as Brendan glowers in the background at anyone else having the temerity to choreograph a routine to this. HAHAHAHA some of Erin's fake hair falls off, and is lying in the middle of the floor like a squashed rat. And then some more falls out! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! There is much laughter as Tess does the link into Lisa and Brendan's routine, so presumably Brendan is clearing the lost hair away. There are a few small glitches in this routine, and Brendan looks really pissed off the whole way through, but one is to hope that won't be taken into account.

Over to the judges. Craig says it is one of the best dance-offs EVER EVER EVER, and saves Lisa and Brendan. Arlene says it's the first time in HISTORY where the dance they are doing matters so much and keeps Lisa and Brendan. Lisa is about to weep. So is Brendan, it seems. Both lower their eyes to the floor. Bruno says the dance-off was so good and so close and if it was up to him, there would be a rollover. But it is not up to him, so he saves Lisa and Brendan. HA. Hooray!

Austin and Erin are out. Len would have agreed with the judges' choice, but wants to say that they've given him so much pleasure, and leads a standing ovation. Austin thanks everyone at Strictly, and Erin, and his wife, who has brought up FOUR DAUGHTERS BY HERSELF while he's been tarting around with his tits out. Erin says that she has had the best time ever with Austin. Tess urges Austin to take his shirt off some more. Fuck's sake. And then he does. FUCK'S SAKE. [Technically it's Erin who takes it off him. Austin appears to have put it back on by the time the camera cuts back to them for the final dance. - Steve] Bruce attempts to strip too. DO NOT WANT. Bruno is in hysterics.

Join us next week for the semi-final - and until then, keeeeeeeeeeeeeeep dancing!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Here come the tens again

Tx 6th December 2008

That's right folks, it's quarter-final time! Last week the competition exploded, apparently. It is so emotional! It's the most closely run Strictly ever! Austin Healey is "revved up", hee. Pun probably not intended, but I laughed more than I will at any of Brucie's jokes this evening. Titles!

Here come Brucie and Tess. Whoever designed Tess's dress didn't take account of the fact that she has to do, like, three dance steps in it, because it's trailing on the floor at the back and she predictably almost trips and falls over. You wouldn't have thought it would be Bruce holding Tess up, would you? Also, I'm slightly concerned that her nipples are visible through the white fabric; either that or it has really badly placed seams.

Bruce and his glamorous assistant make a joke about the cold weather. Let's skate over that to welcome back the stars of our show: Tom and Camilla; Lisa and Brendan; Austin and Erin; Rachel and Vincent. Is it just me, or is Strictly not as much fun when everybody's doing really good dances and getting tens all the time? [It's not just you, no. - Steve] Bruce asks, "Are they humans or are they dancers?" and jokes about himself knowing who The Killers are, and then about himself not actually knowing who The Killers are. Austin and Erin are first to dance, and Bruce takes the piss out of Austin and Tom for not being macho.

Last week Austin's paso divided the judges, with Len rediscovering his 8 paddle while all the other judges gave it 10. Austin has been waiting all series to do the American smooth - "there's no point having muscles if you can't do lifts". Erin says she's hoping not to be dropped this week. Cut to footage of Austin throwing Erin around their studio. Austin confesses that there's more to lifts than just brute strength [tell Kenny Logan that - Carrie], but he doesn't know how Brendan can do lifts, with "pipecleaners coming out of his shoulders". Austin and Erin have been working hard, but it is so difficult whine whine whine. I can't imagine a visit from Matt Dawson would help, but here he is, telling Austin how to improve his arms. I'd have punched him, personally. [Which one - Austin or Matt? - Carrie] Finally, Austin tries to make out that there's any doubt that they'll get through to the final.

They're smoothing to 'The Best is Yet to Come'. Austin's arms are too straight, so he obviously ignored Matt Dawson's tips. They've left the lifts until the end, and they are predictably good - no shock there. The rest of the routine is, however, lacking in wow-factor. It's not exactly Fred and Ginge.

Bruce says this week he asked Len why he was arguing with Craig all the time, and Len said, "Look at that face, would you want to kiss and make up?" Craig raises an eyebrow at the camera and tries not to laugh, while Arlene puts a protective arm round his shoulders. Len reaches over to console him and Craig is like, "Don't touch me!" Hee. Anyway, on with the judging. Head Judge Len says he's overexcited this week (like every week), because anyone can win and anyone can go home. He thought Austin could have been a little bit more Hollywood. Bruno compares Austin to "a glider on an upward swell", and liked his arms. Craig doesn't have "that much to complain about". He thought it was smooth and had a lot of control, but it was "very safe", except for the lifts, and he was bored through the first part. He agrees with Len that there wasn't enough "Hollywood pizazz". Austin confesses that until Wednesday he didn't know what Fred Astaire looked like. Bruce interjects, "You've never watched me?" Austin retorts, "You do look very similar now that I get up close." Arlene wants to give Austin some advice - he mustn't let Erin outdance him. He played rugby for England, she wants him to dance for England. Will we be seeing him in the Eurovision Dance Contest next year then?

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin says it's difficult to put the acting edge on the dance all the way through. Erin's a bit miffed because she didn't think it was boring. Tess reminds us that Austin isn't an Actor. The scores are in: Craig - 8, Arlene - 8, Len - 9, Bruno - 9, for a total of 34. Austin thinks they'll have to come out and blast the salsa. Tess is already salivating over the proposition of Austin getting his guns out. Leave it, Daly!

Next up, Lisa and Brendan. Tonight they'll be doing the waltz and the jive. Bruce says she asked him what the '60s were like - but she meant the waltz in the 1860s, wah-wah-waaaah. He's not doddery, etc. Lisa was thrilled with her good scores last week, and quite pleased about not being in the dance-off. The Welwyn and Hatfield Times have been running an SOS (Save Our Snowdon) campaign. Their waltz training isn't looking promising as they both go flying. Brendan says he's already proud of Lisa. Drink!

Ooh, Lisa has her acting face on. And a very pretty sky-blue dress. They're dancing to 'He was Beautiful'. In the words of Carly Simon, Brendan probably thinks this song is about him. I thought Lisa looked a bit awkward when she did the leaning back bits. It's very good, but I'm slightly bored by it. Lisa looks tearful at the end.

Bruno says Lisa's ballroom dream continues. Simple choreography is difficult to do, but it was stunning. Craig says that Bruno's absolutely right that the genius of the dance was in its simplicity and it was beautiful. Arlene thought it was "like every breath you took matched the flow of the dance and the footwork, and it was so heartwarming you could melt the snow in Scotland". Len compares Lisa SNOWDON to the mountain in Wales: "beautiful, majestic, breathtaking". He also wants to commend the singer. I wouldn't, but that's just me.

Backstage, Lisa says it felt magical and Brendan agrees. The judges' scores are: Craig - 9, Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10, for a nearly perfect 39 out of 40. Lisa says she's going to pretend she's 5-foot to do the jive. Brendan loves her just the way she is. [But not in THAT way. Because he is ENGAGED. - Carrie]

Tom and Camilla are next on the floor. Did you know Tom GOT MARRIED a few weeks ago? I must have missed that. Bruce jokes that Tom was worried about doing the raunchy rumba, but his wife reminded him that he's an actor (sometimes I think he's forgotten too), so he said he'd act like it was his stag night. Their VT shows Tom's supporters (I suppose there had to be some somewhere) in his village back home and their reactions in the pub last week to Craig's 7 and Len's 10. Tom goes home to visit with Camilla in tow to drum up votes. His grandfather-in-law Den asks whether Camilla's heavy. Ha. Also they have done some training, I'm assuming.

Tom and Camilla are dancing the foxtrot to 'Here You Come Again' by Dolly Parton. I must admit it's very good, and has the Hollywood feel that Austin and Erin's smooth was missing. Sorry, though, I still can't stand Tom's smug face. My mum thinks he's going to win. All I can say is: not on my watch.

Craig says it's the best he's ever seen Tom dance, "full of all the stuff celeb men find difficult, the swing and sway". Arlene says, in the words of Dolly Parton, "all you gotta do is smile that smile and you'll be dancing your way into the final". I'm not sure that's exactly what Dolly said. Len says they knocked his socks off. Bruno calls them "TomCam, the golden couple". It makes it sounds like Tom has a 24-hour webcam, which I wouldn't put past him. Bruno says he had "excellent technique, executed with incredible flair".

In the House of Tesstosterone, Camilla loses the ability to speak and Tom says he was overcome by his emotions. Tess says she can see some moisture in the corner of his eye. It's sweat. Scores: Craig - 9 (boo? since when is 9 a boo-able score?), Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10, giving them 39, their highest score so far. Camilla is proud of Tom. Drink! Tom says the NEW WIFE has given him permission to go for it in the rumba.

The final couple to take on the ballroom is Rachel and Vincent. Bruce says that they've been getting such good scores, the level of expectation is "higher than Simon Cowell's trousers". [I think I preferred it when the jokes at least made a vague attempt at being topical. - Steve] They were in the bottom two last week, and Vincent got all emotional because he was criticised for his choreography. Good job for them that Christine and Matthew were in the bottom two with them. The choreography is giving Vincent insomnia. The tango is difficult, so they have to make sure they nail it. Rachel still has no personality. There's no comment on Vincent being a tango expert, surprisingly.

I do like Rachel's dress, which is red, sparkly and backless. They're dancing to the Eurythmics' 'Here Comes the Rain Again', which has some suitable staccato moments, and their tango has pretty much everything a tango should. There's none of that Messing Abaaaaaht which Len hates so much. The ending's a bit weird, but mainly from a musical point of view rather than a dance one.

Arlene says that the dance needs to be full of "emotion and drama, tight hold, clipped staccato moves", and as well as having all that, it was "possibly the most erotic tango she's ever seen". I'm not sure we were watching the same dance in that case. Len loved the "light and shade", and how they "took hold directly, no Messing Abaaaht" - drink! He wishes he had an 11. That's what your 10 is for, you twat. There's a brief interlude while Bruce clicks heels with Vincent. Bruno says that it's "one of the rare times when music, dance and dancer become undistinguishable". Let's gloss over the fact that (1) that's not a word, and (2) Bruno mispronunciated it. Craig commends Vincent on the choreography, which was "very classy". He thought the music was "a brave choice". However, he did notice two things - Rachel's balance was displaced on a backstep, and during the kick ball changes towards the end, she was slightly ahead. Bruno starts shouting about how he counted all the way through, and Len accuses Craig of causing global warming with all his hot air and just wanting to be the grumpy one all the time. Or, you know, wanting to be the judge who actually does his fucking job.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess says Rachel looked like a professional. Vincent makes excuses about Rachel losing her balance because she's got such small feet. The scores are in: Craig - 9 (boo!), Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10. Len has given up actually saying "ten" by this point, presumably because we're supposed to just assume that's what it is. Rachel and Vincent have broken yet another record with the highest tango score EVER.

Half-time leaderboard: everyone has 39, except for Austin and Erin at the bottom with 34.

Now for the Latin round! Austin and Erin are doing the salsa. In pink satin. VT filler: how do the judges rate Austin's chances? I can't really be bothered to recap it. I can report that Arlene definitely has a glass of wine in front of her on the judges' round table, however. Len unsurprisingly thinks that Austin's going to do a knockout salsa. Arlene thinks he needs to dance for his life.

Erin does a spin going on to the floor, which is just showing off and surely doesn't count anyway. They're dancing to the Mambo Magic music from Dirty Dancing. I bet Brendan's pissed off that someone else got to it before him. There are some Dirty Dancing moves too. There are a lot of crowdpleasing moves, but in some of the transitionary parts Austin just seems to be walking across the floor waiting for the next bit. When they finish, Austin looks like he might have a heart attack.

Len goes on about Austin being a sportsman and he loved it. Shocker. Bruno tells him that, "This performance will get you the pink pound!" Hee! Austin "lost a bit of timing in the middle", but he loved the underarm passes and the drops. Craig thought it was "very entertaining and all of that", but "some of it was a bit awkward" and he "didn't believe the hip action". Austin shakes his booty in Craig's direction to convince him. Bruce adds his own booty as a comparison. Bruno looks shocked. Or possibly turned on. With Bruno, it's hard to tell. Arlene points out that we know Austin can circle his hips, but Craig is right that the salsa hip action wasnt there. Len says he saw it on the forward and back basics, but Arlene maintains that it wasn't, and I'm sure she was watching more closely. When dancing with Erin, she thought Austin's performance was electric and masterful - and she loves a masterful man - but on his own, there's "a bit of timidity". Len starts yelling, "NE-VEER!" and looks pleased with himself. Arlene ignores it and tells Austin to be fearless all the time.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin says he'd feel like he let Erin down if he didn't get through. The judges' scores are in: Craig - 8 (boo!), Arlene - 9, Len - 10, Bruno - 9, for a total of 37 and a final score of 71. They'll need all the viewer votes they can get. Austin says he doesn't have the energy left to salsa again in the dance-off. Won't he have recovered by "tomorrow"? Tess says there was a problem with the graphics, and Bruno actually scored a 9. Everyone is like, WTF? Austin says he definitely saw a 10. I'm guessing that Bruno got overexcited and pressed the wrong button. Tess reiterates that they got 37, but presumably what she was actually supposed to correct was that they got 36 for their salsa, giving them a final score of 70.

Lisa and Brendan's jive is next. She mastered the Latin last week - can she do it again? More pointless VT. Craig reminisces about their "A-Ma-Zing" foxtrot. Len is impressed with Brendan's transformation from the nasty boy of ballroom. Is it just because he's getting some this series? Bruno is topping up the wine. Craig is alarmed about Lisa's jive and thinks it might be her downfall. Bruno thinks she has potential to knock his socks off. Len thinks she'll be in trouble, presumably because she isn't a sportsman.

Brendan's clearly intending to take a leaf out of Darren's book by jiving to Elton John - 'Crocodile Rock'. Lisa looks like she's struggling to keep up a bit, but her kicks are sharper than, for example, Jodie's were when she jived. [I actually thought Jodie's were sharper. Lisa's seemed very leaden. - Steve] There's a lot of basic jive. Okay, she's no Jill Halfpenny, but it wasn't as bad as everyone seemed to be expecting.

Bruno starts off, "Why did I worry? Jive is the hardest dance to master for a tall person, but you did it." Craig calls it a "brave endeavour". Lisa danced it to the best of her ability, but he didn't think it completely suited her. He commends her on a fine job. Lisa points out that she's a tall girl, because that hasn't been mentioned enough, has it? Arlene says never mind Austin; Lisa tackles everything like a rugby player. Sometimes her knees were bent when she needed to flex them, but it was a "fantastic attempt for somebody who'd never done anything like that". Len liked the way Lisa acted the dance. He was worried about her legs, but they were good. However, it was a bit loose and needed more toning throughout her body.

Backstage, Lisa is happy with the comments. She's been using the power of positive thinking to convince herself that she can do the jive. Brendan challenges the judges to do that jive and says it was "damn good". The scores are in: 8s from everyone except Bruno who prefaces his 9 with, "I liked it!" [Haha, I loved Bruno's coy little look at the camera as he said that. - Carrie] That's 33 for the jive, and 72 overall. Brendan throws a hissy fit, saying the scores are rubbish and it was better than that, and storms off, despite Lisa trying to drag him back. [Beaming at the camera all the while as she grips onto his arm with all of her might. Brilliant. - Carrie] Hooray, Bad Boy Brendan! He should have a theme song for when that happens, like Wolf in Gladiators. Tom gallantly steps in as a stand-in Brendan. [Anything to get a bit more camera time. Whore. - Steve] Tess throws back to Bruce, who misses his cue amid the chaos in the House of Tesstosterone. Someone has to shout, "You're on, Bruce!"

Tom and Camilla are next. Bruce says that despite a 10 last week, Tom hasn't managed to wow all the judges. I really think they could have reconsidered that link after he got 39 for his first dance. Arlene is impressed with Tom's hip action. Bruno calls Austin and Tom "two stallions racing for the finish line". Craig is concerned that Tom hasn't improved. Len thinks he's on a plateau and plays it too safe. Arlene thinks being an actor is a handicap because he's thinking too much about acting the dance. Tom feels a bit naked doing the rumba. Arlene offers to show him how to do it, and wants him to erupt. We are still talking about the rumba, aren't we?

I find myself rather enjoying Camilla's choreography. It's one of the more exciting rumbas I've seen. Tom still looks like he's acting Romance, with a serious face. They're dancing to 'You Needed Me'.

Craig says he has to apologise because he was wrong, there is sign of improvement. He thought it was going to be "too sharp and aggressive for the rumba", but he "fell in love with it". Bruce tells Craig he's improving all the time too, and Craig suggests that he tell Len that. Snarf. Arlene complains that there were lots of shapes and lines, forward and back basic, but not a lot of content, but first time she found her heart beating faster because the true dancer Tom is came out. Len says the rumba is "a tough dance for a man". He thought it was too hectic, had too many lines, and not enough of the basic rumba. What? That's the opposite of what Arlene said, and they can't both be right. Bruno agrees with Len and says the balance wasn't right and Tom was "a bit stiff". Arlene says it told the story and had chemistry - she saw it and we should trust her.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tom describes it as "an interesting piece". The scores are in: Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 8, Bruno - 8. The audience are confused over the 8s, with half of them booing and half cheering. That's a total of 36, and a final score of 73.

Finally, Rachel and Vincent. They'll be doing the cha-cha-cha, and I imagine Rachel will probably be good at this.VT! Arlene says Rachel's the strongest dancer technically and everyone else is snapping at her heels. Len points out that her Latin hasn't been up to standard of her ballroom. AS we know, the cha-cha-cha is a cheeky dance and needs great hip action. Bruno says Rachel needs to "ignite the special performance level of the cha-cha-cha", whatever that means.

Vincent seems to have choreographed some personality in for Rachel. They're dancing to 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered', and they're going to get good marks again for it.

Arlene says that, "We've waited a long time, but that performance sparkled like the shine on your dress." Len tells them they've done two fantastic dances. Bruno calls Rachel "a great dancer" and Craig says it was "absolutely gorgeous". Have the judges been told to get a move on or something?

Rachel is delighted backstage. Vincent whines about having to do two fast, difficult dances, with lots of steps to remember. The scores are in: Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 9, Bruno - 10, giving them 39. Bruno's score is the only one that makes sense in light of their comments. That was weird. Anyway, that's a total of 76 for both dances.

There's just time for a quick look at the final leaderboad: Rachel and Vincent are lording it at the top with 76, Tom and Camilla have 73, Lisa and Brendan have 72, and Austin and Erin are at the bottom with 70. Will the public vote save them? A clue: yes. I'm off to vote for Lisa and Brendan. [In the absence of a vote-to-eliminate option, I voted once for everybody except Tom. - Steve] Join us tomorrow for the results, when Barry Manilow will be performing 'Copacabana'! [Expect the girlies to be fighting over who gets to be Lola in the pro dance! My money's on Ola. Vincent can be Rico, and wear a diamond. James can be Tony and protect the showgirl's honour. SO excited. - Carrie]